As federal prosecutors confirmed in a court filing Wednesday that a criminal investigation involving the recent raid on Gibson Guitar Corporation is now in motion, other American guitar makers are expressing concern for their own business operations. Gibson facilities in Memphis and Nashville were raided by federal agents on August 24, leaving the company with an estimated loss of $2 to $3 million.
Gibson’s alleged crime was a violation of the Lacey Act, a conservation law that aims to protect plants and wildlife from endangerment by enacting civil and criminal penalties for a throng of violations. Gibson is being charged for allegedly importing wood from a foreign country in violation of a 2008 amendment to the law that makes it unlawful "to import certain plants and plant products without an import declaration."
U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin declined to provide specific details on the investigation, but the prosecutor’s documents identify that the federal government can "seek criminal fines and imprisonment for knowing violations of the Lacey Act." The imported wood seized by federal agents came from India, and authorities are deeming the wood illegal ebony and rosewood.
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